David Price struck out 12 over seven innings and combined with two relievers on a four-hit shutout in the Rays’ 5-0 defeat of the Indians on Friday.
Price outdueled Josh Tomlin, who was far and away the hotter pitcher entering the game. Tomlin, who hadn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his nine starts while going 6-1 with a 2.41 ERA, gave up four runs over six innings in this one. The home runs finally did him in; it was the fourth time this year that he gave up two bombs, but this time, both came with men on base.
Casey Kotchman and Sam Fuld were the unlikely home run hitters. They had combined for three in 283 at-bats this season entering the day.
Price allowed four hits and walked two in the 110-pitch outing. He struck out 10 or more batters for the fifth time in his career. His previous high for strikeouts was 11, established against the Twins on May 30, 2009 and matched against the Diamondbacks on June 26, 2010.
Price improved to 6-4 with a 3.54 ERA. Those aren’t the kind of numbers he posted last year, when he was in the mix for AL Cy Young honors. However, he currently has a 1.06 WHIP and a 68/13 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings, suggesting that his ERA should keep declining. Last year, he had a 1.19 WHIP to go along with his 2.72 ERA.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.